Government to add English hasbara site

Edelstein: Aim is to involve average Israelis in bid to defend Israel abroad.

yuli edelstein 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yuli edelstein 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
An English-language Web site will soon be added to the government’s new effort to involve average Israelis in the effort to defend the Jewish state abroad, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Wednesday.
Edelstein said the Web site would be ready in April, joining the Hebrew site, which around 150,000 people have entered since it debuted two weeks ago. Training sessions have begun, and a pamphlet about how to defend the country is being distributed at Ben-Gurion Airport.
The campaign has also attracted the attention of on Al-Jazeera English (David Frost’s program), CNN, The New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor.
“The interest there has been is too good to be true,” Edelstein said. “This shows that we pressed the right buttons.”
Edelstein said the main complaint he had received was the lack of an English-language site.
Peace Now director-general Yariv Oppenheimer sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this week complaining that the Masbirim site was too right-wing and accusing Edelstein of using the campaign to shift Israelis rightward.
But Edelstein downplayed the criticism.
“Peace Now is outside of the Israeli consensus, doesn’t represent anyone, and was merely looking for a provocation,” Edelstein said. “There is a consensus on issues that we can use to defend the country. Those who heckle our speakers abroad aren’t for the Israeli Left and against the Right. They oppose our right to exist.”
Edelstein said Israelis should feel free to advocate for a Palestinian state if that was their opinion, but that his ministry would concentrate on giving Israelis facts and techniques for representing Israel abroad.
“The campaign doesn’t encourage people to give speeches on the Palestinian conflict but to talk about their lives and that we don’t take our wives out to fight Palestinians but to concerts,” Edelstein said.
“If people talk about the beautiful Israel and are ready for the tough questions, it can change the atmosphere for Israel internationally.”